2021-2022 Theme: "How Can I Be A Good American?"



Conducted nationwide, this VFW-sponsored youth essay competition encourages students to use their minds and knowledge of America’s history and their experience of today’s American society to write essays expressing their views on an annual patriotic theme. We invite you to join the more than 138,000 students who participated last year in this contest. Patriot’s Pen gives 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students the opportunity to express their opinion on a patriotic theme and improve their writing skills, while they compete for awards and prizes. The awards from all levels of the competition total $1.2 million each year. Each Department (state) first place winner competes at the national level for $55,000 in award money. The first place national winner receives $5,000 and an all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C., for the winner and a parent or guardian. Each state winner will receive at least $500 at the national level. The National Association of Secondary School Principals has placed this program on their National Advisory List of Contests for participation.

The theme for the Annual VFW Patriot’s Pen Essay is "How Can I Be A Good American?”. The contest is open to all students in the 6th, 7th and 8th grades in public, private, parochial schools, as well as, home-schooled children in the United States and its territories or its possessions and dependents of U.S. military or civilian personnel in overseas schools. Former first place state winners are not eligible to compete again. Foreign exchange students, adults and former winners that placed in the National contest are not eligible to compete. Although U.S. citizenship is not required, students must be lawful U.S. permanent residents or have applied for permanent residence (the application cannot have been denied) and intends to become a U.S. citizen at the earliest opportunity allowed by law. Brochures on the program were mailed to all Post Commanders and Auxiliary Presidents. Schools should be contacted as soon as they open for the current year in order that the teachers can include the contest in the lesson plans. Posts are responsible for giving their area schools Patriot’s Pen pamphlets. You can check the program on the web at to see requirements and print the entry forms.  


The essay must be typed in English and be 300-400 words in length. Poetry is not accepted. Word count does not include the title or footnotes. NO GRAPHICS OR COLOR ALLOWEDThe essay must be a contestant’s original work and a product of the contestant’s own thinking. Contestants will NOT identify themselves within their essay to include, but not limited to, their name, school, city, state, race or national origin. Do not put the students name on the essay; use the entry form as the cover sheet.


VERY IMPORTANT: POST CHAIRMAN SHOULD pursue a notice in local media.

Posts may submit one winning entry to the District for judging.  Districts may submit one winning entry to the Department Chairman.


1. Official entry form and info required. Forms may be printed from online at

2. Three typed copies of the essay


PATRIOT’S PEN Deadlines: The deadlines for Patriot’s Pen are as follows:

 1.     Midnight, October 31, Entries to the Post*

2.    November 15, Completion of Post judging**

3.    December 10, Completion of District judging**

4.    December 10, January 15, Posts need to submit report on dashboard to acknowledge that they participated in Patriot Pen*

5.    December 13, Email or fax a copy of your winning essay to the email or fax above*(Email preferred)

6.    December 15, District winning entry packetwith head shot picture of winner must be received by Department Chairman*

7.    January 10, Completion of Department judging**

8.    January 15, District participation reports to Department Chairman* District chairmen should roll up the post reports into one District report. All District reports must be received by 15 January and include the phone number and email address of the chairman of that district.*

9.    January 15, Districts must submit a report and approve post reports on dashboard to acknowledge that the posts and District participated in Patriot Pen*

10.  January 15, Department winners to National*

11.  January 31, Department reports to National*


*required deadlines

**suggested deadlines


DO NOT mail District entries and required forms to State Headquarters.  Mail them directly to the State Patriot’s Pen Chairman in above heading.


Note: It’s critical that the Post/District reports be accurate. Ask for guidance if something is unclear.


Points Value in judging is as follows:

            Knowledge of Theme -           30 pts

            Theme Development  -           35 pts

            Clarity of Ideas           -           35 pts

            Possible Total             -           100 pts


First, second, and third place state winners will receive awards presented by State Chairman at the Mid-Winter Conference.

 An entry for judging at the next higher level is a requirement for All-State selection.

Individual awards will not be permitted to be presented by the respective District Chairmen at the Mid-Winter Conference. These awards SHOULD BE PRESENTED AT THE DISTRICT'S AWARDS PROGRAM. Posts and Districts are encouraged to present awards to their respective entries.



If the school does not participateor if there are no schools in your area, the Post should contact student(s)and have them participate in a Post contest with the Post winner being entered into the District competition. Home-schooled children, your child, grandchild, or a friend's child might just be interested in winning a scholarship. Do not lose the opportunity to have your Post or Auxiliary compete in the Patriot’s Pen contest.

Posts and Auxiliaries should make their awards as large as possible. WE HAVE TO have an incentive for the teachers to push the program in order to get larger student participation. Many Posts and Auxiliaries have an Awards Night at the Post Home for teachers, community leaders and students. Some schools request that it be held at a school function. Whichever is done, make sure the students are rewarded and the community is aware of it. It is suggested that each Post and/or Auxiliary present some sort of citation to participating winners, students, teachers, etc. Citations can be ordered from the National Emblem and Supply Catalog. Department can help you create a citation also.

 All entries, including Home Schools, must be judged at the VFW Post level. The only exception is where schools/classes/youth groups have large numbers of students and wish to conduct their own competition, submitting one winner for each 15 students to the local VFW Post competition. Individual students may submit their entry directly to the local VFW Post within your U.S. state of residence provided they have not competed in a school class competition.



Click here to view the Rules & Eligibility Requirements: Patriots-Pen-Rules-and-Eligibility.pdf

Click here to download the current year Entry Form: Patriots-Pen-Entry-Form-Fillable.pdf